This was a wonderful trip and I appreciate how fortunate I am to be able to do this. It was a solo journey so I could spent time with my German family and friends. After an 10-hour uneventful flight (which is always good), I took the train to Göttingen and was picked up by my girlfriend. I was happy to see her and my family when we arrived at the village. There were many hugs and kisses. At that moment, I realized how much I miss them all, especially the children. They are growing up very fast. Despite the 9-hour time difference, I managed to stay up for awhile. The next day I went to Göttingen for the afternoon (click here to read about Göttingen). Whenever I visit Göttingen, I have to go to Crown and Lanz, an old-fashioned German cafe for some cake. Everyone was getting into celebrating Easter, even the town fountain.
Easter is a three-day holiday in Germany. Good Friday is a holiday and the Monday after Easter is also a holiday. My nephew, his wife and her twin sister invited the family for Easter Sunday brunch that lasted all day. Maren, my nephew’s wife’s twin sister baked this amazing Easter cake. It took her long time to produce this masterpiece, but it was worth the effort.
Both of the sisters had created a super delicious buffet with home-baked bread and many different vegetarian salads and dishes. They were doing this while watching their five children. Everybody had a great time and after the feast, we all went for a long walk to see the Easter fire before it was lit. This day alone was worth my trip. Thank you, Maren, and Jessica, for putting on this wonderful Easter brunch.
Easter Monday was quiet. My brother took us to a local restaurant for lunch or Mittagessen as we call it in Germany. We were served a nice meal. If you want to enjoy an authentic German meal and you happen to drive on the Autobahn A7 north, take the Nörten Hardenberg exit and eat at the Rodenberg restaurant. You will not regret it.
If you want a fancier dinner, stop at the old castle Hardenberg outside town. This is a beautiful spot to take a walk and watch people training their horses to jump. My dad and I used to come here when I was a child. Here you will find an elegant Relais & Châteaux hotel with two restaurants and a wellness spa. Or you can play golf nearby. This little town, Nörten Hardenberg, is three miles from my village and I enjoy coming here.
Wanting to contribute something to the Easter brunch, I made deviled eggs. They were simple but good. The eggs had been laid by my brother’s hens that week and they were extremely fresh and delicious with a dark yolk. No recipe was needed: I added some mayonnaise, mustard, a dash of curry powder, and pickled juice to the egg yolks. They were creamy and eaten right away. Once home, I made another batch that was not as creamy, but also very good.
Despite jet lag, I managed to have a small dinner party for three of my friends. I made a blueberry galette, stuffed mushrooms and my husband barbecued his rack of lamb. This meal helped me to get back into the groove, because I would have loved to have stayed longer in Germany.
This one is a real crowd pleaser. Start any festivity with these savory salt-topped cheese puffs and sparkling wine. They also make a great snack that you can't stop eating.
According to Wikipedia a gougère, in French cuisine, is a baked savory choux pastry made of choux dough mixed with cheese. There are many variations. Gougères are said to come from Burgundy, particularly the town of Tonnerre in the Yonne department. In Burgundy, they are generally served cold when tasting wine in cellars, but are also served warm as an appetizer. Gougères can be made as small pastries, 3–4 cm in diameter; aperitif gougères; 10–12 cm, individual gougères, or in a ring. Sometimes they are filled with ingredients such as mushrooms, beef, or ham.
I never made either cream or savory puffs before. But my mom often made large cream puffs filled with sweet whipped cream for Sunday afternoons. She was very good at it and could make them in no time. She used the eggs from her chickens and fresh cream from her farm in Germany. Her cream puffs were large and filling. In Germany, people visit each other in the afternoon to have coffee and sweets. I don't know why I never made them myself and I only ate them when my mom made them. They are called Windbeutel in German, which means bags of wind. I like that name.
When I found this recipe for savory little puffs, I was ready to try them. This is another old recipe from Sunset magazine that was tacked away in my appetizer folder. They were my third appetizer for my book club meeting and everybody liked them. What made these puffs so tasty and good was the strongly flavored, aged cheddar I used and my crunchy sea salt crystals. These little treats are best eaten on the day they are baked. Freeze the rest on a flat sheet and then put them in an airtight container. I put mine in a ziplock plastic bag. If you keep them until the following day, zip them for a few seconds in the microwave. That is what I did with my leftovers. I have to say they are quite addictive.
In the meantime we had our second book club meeting. The Shoppenhauer Cure got mixed reviews. Some people liked it and some did not. We are now reading My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante.
This finger food has it all—it is healthy and low in calories (160 calories for three). Sesame wonton cups filled with smoked salmon, ginger, green onions and avocados. A showpiece at any cocktail party or whenever you want to serve a delicious appetizers.
In my last post, I wrote about my roasted eggplant spread that I served for appetizers at our first book club meeting. I also wanted to add some yummy-tasting appetizers with a wow factor to our meeting. It was like magic. I transformed good old won ton wrappers into the cutest little cups by simply brushing some melted butter over them and arranging them in a mini muffin pan to bake in the oven. How easy is that—and makes a great presentation. The only trick is that you have to own a mini muffin pan. If you don’t, maybe your neighbor or friend has one you can borrow. I deserve no credit for this idea, but my passion for collecting recipes does. This little jewel was hiding in my appetizer folder. It came from an old Sunset magazine.
A healthy vegan spread that has a rich flavor and can be used as a dip, a sandwich spread, or added to pastas or salads. It is made in no time and will nourish your body with wholesome food for days.
My friend, Diane, and I decided to start a book club with some of our friends. At our first meeting at my house, we were off to a good start. Everyone enjoyed themselves and we talked about our personal relationship with books. Three of us (myself included) told stories about reading under the blankets with a flashlight when we were children. All of us love to read and admit that we often don't take the time to do so. Oh, those busy lives we live! As a hostess, I nominated three books and our group chose The Schopenhauer Cure by Irvin Yalon, a beautifully told tale about a psychotherapist who is diagnosed with a fatal disease. Knowing he has only one good year left, he is inspired to reexamine his life and work. He chooses to continue to work with his therapy group during this final year. He reconnects with one of his former patients, who is miraculously transformed by the teachings of the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer.
Schopenhauer lived an isolated life, without friends, wife, family, or colleagues. He was a troubled individual and a most peculiar man. Yet his work showed an extraordinary range of depth in his vision. Some philosophers argue that his work contains more interesting ideas than other famous philosophers. He advised to minimize our natural desires for the sake of achieving a more tranquil frame of mind. He was the first western philosopher to look to the east and the Buddhist teachings for guidance. The book is a moving debate about the end of life.
Let's not become too philosophical and return to one of my favorite snack. I like it because it makes me believe that I am eating healthy food, even though it tastes so rich and sinful.
I have made this tasty spread for years. My inspiration comes from Ina Garden's recipe. I have played with it and used it for different purposes. The originally recipe is for a dip. The spread is great with homemade or store-bought pita chips. But it also great as a vegetable added to quinoa or on a sandwich. I love to snack on it. I get hungry just thinking about it.
I am back from my whirlwind trip to Germany. It was short, but I was so happy to see my German family and friends. I love them and miss them when I'm here in sunny California. I am fortunate that I can visit them often and stay in touch. Read about my four days in Berlin and my visit with my family on my Wanderlust blog (click here).
It's time to share some of my holidays recipes with you. Every year, I make my country pâté for the lighted boat parade party at my friends’ house. Here in Santa Cruz, people decorate their boats for Christmas and parade around the harbor just after dark. Hundreds of people come to watch, which is the launch of the Christmas season. The pork country pâté is rich but delicious and a great treat for a large party. It has to be made ahead of time and will earn the cook many compliments.
For those of you who prefer a lighter vegetarian appetizer, my goat cheese with fresh herbs olives, and garlic is easy to make and tasty.
For another party, I will make my party rolls, which have been a staple for years. You can fill them with anything you like. There are a meal unto themselves. Enjoy the season!
Always a crowd pleaser
These days, you rarely find my kitchen without avocados. The creamy texture and delicious taste make them irresistible and so healthy. I eat them whenever I can—on sandwiches, in salads, by themselves, as a snack or guacamole (which my husband makes). When I want to show off a little bit, I make stuffed avocados. I usually stuff my avocados with bay shrimp, some celery, small tomatoes and fresh herbs with a light dressing. It's delicious, easy to make and people always like it. It makes a nice lunch or appetizer. So, if you want a tasty dish with great presentation, check out this recipe. Feel free to substitute different ingredients or leave out the things you don't like. I have added chopped apple pieces instead of tomatoes, and used Greek yogurt instead of crême fraiche. Deb, who has a beautiful blog called "eastofedencooking", helped me take pictures for this recipe.
A wonderful tasty treat for special events
Every year in Santa Cruz, we have the Lighted Boat Parade the first Saturday in December to kickstart the Christmas holiday season. We are always invited to a party to watch this delightful show. Last year, I promised the host that I would bring pâté. Did I tell you that I love pâté—I mean I love that stuff! Whenever I'm in France, I buy several varieties in a charcuterie and have a picnic. There are many different kinds of pâté, some are very delicate and fine and others like the country pâté have a rustic texture. I needed an easy recipe without much fuss. Most of the recipes call for grinding your own meat and will take several days to complete. I found a recipe at epicurious.com that I liked. It is easy to make and tasted fantastic. If you can make meatloaf, you can make this pâté. I reduced the amount of bacon used in the original recipe and added small red and orange petite peppers for a little kick and color.
This is a crowd-pleasing appetizer with great flavors
In 1999, the "Friends of the UCSC Farm & Garden" published a sweet little cookbook about seasonal recipes by the great chefs of Santa Cruz with an introduction by Deborah Madison, an alumna of UCSC. This book is a gem. My favorite recipe is baked goat cheese with herbs, garlic and olives. It is divine and everyone who ever tastes it loves it. It is great snack or appetizer, and is perfect for the upcoming holidays. I love the leftovers on crackers or good bread the next day. A chef named Forest Cook gets credit for this wonderful dish.
These rolls can be filled with any ingredients you choose. I often use hummus instead of a cream cheese spread—or I make them with egg salad—or cheese with salami or ham. Roasted peppers, grated carrots, and chopped olives go well with hummus—and mayonnaise (or any other spread) will keep the rolls together. My friends have requested these rolls for years and they are easy to transport. They always make a satisfying and filling appetizer.
I am crazy about fresh herbs and love to use them in my cooking whenever possible. This spread accents some of my favorite herbs. One of them is dill. The flavors are divine and it is always a party pleaser. It is easy to make and doesn't cost a fortune. If you want to be decadent you can add crême fraiche or sour cream. To make a dip with raw vegetables, increase the amount of yogurt or add some milk if you want it to be more liquid. The photo is an example of lavash bread, my cream cheese dip, salmon, avocados, and lettuce rolled and cut into slices that I'm taking to a party.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. It means a lot to me and I would love to hear from you .
Comments in English and German are welcome!
the chef mimi blog
East of Eden Cooking
The Kitchen Lioness
Chocolate and Zucchini
Cocoa and Lavender
from the Bartolini Kitchen
Saving Room for Dessert